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Hand Warmers: How Safe Are They for Your Kids?

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Fall is here, and winter is just about the corner. Both seasons have in common the dip in temperature, cold breeze, and the need to layer clothing to keep the biting cold out. One thing now in vogue for keeping your hands warm even when out playing in the snow is hand warmers, and luckily, these thermal pads have done well in keeping our hands from having frostbites.

Nonetheless, everything with an advantage always has a corresponding disadvantage in a way, and the same is true for the “life-saving” hand warmers. This will be the topic of our discourse today, especially as it concerns our kids.

But first things first,

What are hand warmers?

Hand warmers are small thermal pads that produce heat to warm cold hands when held. They could be reusable or disposable depending on their release mode and the chemical contents having the heat-releasing reaction. In addition, there are battery-activated hand warmers that may last many hours.

Now, there is no argument against the comforting advantages of hand warmers, especially given that the winter cold has the tendency to bite deep, even through your gloves and the like, and something extra might be needed to keep your palms warm.

However, we are not oblivious to the hazards and accidents that may occur from misusing this cold-weather gear, especially in kids.

child sitting outside in winter

The potential health hazards of hand warmers for your kids

Kids can be very curious and inquisitive. They might be driven by their inquisitive nature to see, taste, or feel the contents of the hand warmers, which in most cases, end up in unfortunate events. The two most reoccurring health dangers of hand warmers include:

Ingestion injuries

One of the dangers of hand warmers is the likelihood of ingesting the chemical contents, which usually contain iron, salt, carbon, charcoal, and sodium acetate. According to information by the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre, “there were 8 incidents of elderly people ingesting the content of disposable warm pads from 2006 to 2009.” It has also been reported to cause corrosive injury to the esophagus and stomach after ingesting one hand warmer packet and burning to the oral cavity and gastrointestinal disorder.

Burning of skin

Some reusable hand warmers come in microwavable pads, which can be heated by repeatedly microwaving to produce heat for cold hands. However, sometimes, repeated heating could cause a leakage of the fluid from the heated pads, which, when it comes in contact with the skin, could scald the skin and cause burning.

Similarly, your kids may have skin sensitivity to the chemical contents of the hand warmer. When such chemicals come in contact with the skin, they could cause severe skin irritation and burns. To avoid this, keep hand warmers in their protective pouch when in use.

siblings building snowmen


As a matter of fact, not everyone is privy to the damaging health effects of hand warmers, especially kids. Your nanny may not be aware, too, which is even riskier, seeing that nannies are the closest trusted contact of kids after the parents, and kids are usually receptive to what their nannies give or tell them.

To avoid accidents that may occur from unsupervised use of hand warmers, especially by toddlers and younger kids, discuss with your nannies and caregivers not allowing your kids to use hand warmers unsupervised or keeping them within their reach.

The Elite Nanny Team (TENT Group) is your trusted nanny agency to match you with nannies and caregivers trained in handling such related accidents and injuries and overall injuries peculiar to kids. With an elite nanny, you can rest assured the possibilities of your kids ingesting and getting burnt from a hand warmer are the barest minimum.

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